How we get comfortable with uncertainty
|Arrow the Perro|
Waiting for News~Dealing with Uncertainty
Recently, I found myself 'puttin' up the beans'. While waiting in that numb and suspended state of animation for news on my sick 13 year old dog I'd left with the vet to get IV fluids and tests, I suddenly pulled out the paint, sandpaper, and paint brushes to paint the front and back door.
I didn't want to think about the future. I didn't know if after days of throwing up and failing to eat, Arrow was on death's door so I did what I do when I face uncertainty and I'm unable to control the outcome. I did something physical.
I had to do something--anything--to put one foot in front of the other while waiting in the sludge of uncertainty.
It's what we do to calm and center ourselves in the face of uncertainty--we engage our hands to dis-engage our minds.
The Painted Front Door
I didn't think about what I was doing or wonder if I had enough time to complete the job before going back to the vet. I simply performed the task with determination and concentration.
With laser-focus and no-fuss I completed painting with precision and in record-time. It was my natural way to cope with the uncertainty of the future. It was my way of 'puttin' up the beans.
On vacation days before the stroke
Puttin' Up the Beans~Preparing for the Future
The term 'puttin' up the beans' originated years ago, after my mother had a stroke coming home from a family vacation. The family was reeling with the uncertainty of what the future held.
After we gathered at the hospital an hour away from my parent's home, my father, who had been at the hospital all day, was tired and ready to go home for the night asked a couple of us 'girls' to go home with him as he needed help 'puttin' up the beans'.
None of us questioned why at this time when my mother was still in a coma, he wanted to get home to 'put up the beans'. We instinctively understood his need to normalize life and act as if tomorrow's another ordinary day.
Three years later, as my mother was being transported to the hospital in the ambulance after suffering a heart attack at home, I watched as my father stopped to clean the kitchen counters and put dishes away. I gently coaxed him out the door so we could get to the hospital, knowing once again he was 'puttin' up the beans'.
Always build a nest in the eye of the storm
Treat Every Day as an Extraordinarily Ordinary Day
I remember the first time I learned about this desire of ours to go on as if it was another ordinary, normal day.
While visiting a friend in Southern California, I was enjoying a cup of coffee with her and looking out her front window as we watched her next door neighbor--an apparently carefree young woman--wash her car in shorts and a tank top on a bright, sun-shiny day.
'She's dying of cancer', my friend said. 'She only has a little time left.'
She died the following week.
Back then I marveled that this young woman--just a few years younger than me--would engage in such an ordinary, every day activity as she faced death. Today I understand she was just 'puttin' up the beans'. It's how we continue on--taking it one day and one step at a time.
Keep on Puttin' Up the Beans
Life Requires Us to Carry On
In the face of uncertainty we must take one step and then another until the future unfolds to show us it's hand. And we must learn to do the best we can to keep on keeping on despite the uncertainty, fear and sorrow.
No one welcomes or expects these times of uncertainty and grief we stumble our way through. Yet in the process of dealing with them we discover we're made of strong stuff--and we find our own way to 'put up the beans' to help us through the most difficult of times.
'A simple definition of life: The chance you've been waiting for.'
'...Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?'
Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day"
I have within me all ingredients for a good life
Thanks to Lee Bryant for playing with the affirmation hearts
to give them new meaning and beauty.
For more than 35 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes letting go and moving forward with life easier than ever before.
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